From September, the Queensland Government will narrow its procurement net to heavily favour suppliers within the state.
The state’s Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, revealed her government’s new multi-billion-dollar Queensland Procurement Strategy and Policy (QPP) on 29 July.
The announcement came after Cabinet agreed the State Government would no longer be constrained or bound by free trade agreements that have seen jobs go off-shore or interstate.
“We will ignore restrictions that go against our interests,” Palaszczuk.
The “Buy Queensland” initiative will, from 1 September, see a “local supplier” defined as a business that maintains a workforce within a 125km radius of where the goods or workers are needed.
Currently, the Australia-New Zealand Government Procurement Agreement defines “local” as anywhere in Australia and New Zealand.
“Suggesting to a Queensland taxpayer that funding a job in Christchurch is the same as funding one in Cairns is patently ridiculous,” Palaszczuk said. “We won’t compromise in putting jobs of Queenslanders front and centre.”
The plan will also require at least one local or regional supplier, and one other Queensland based business, to be invited to quote or tender for every procurement opportunity offered, regardless of Australia’s existing trade agreements.
Additionally, significant infrastructure projects that are worth $100 million and above will require the use of local sub-contractors and manufacturers where the local capability and capacity exists, while significant projects will be required, where possible, to expend 15 per cent on apprenticeships – up from the current 10 per cent.
The initiative will also exempt business from the pre-qualification system for IT projects under $1 million – mirroring similar moves by NSW.
Further, businesses tendering for government procurement contracts will need to have a permanent workforce in Queensland. They will need to offer fair wages, conditions and superannuation, and have good workplace health and safety records.
The new procurement policy will apply across all agencies, statutory bodies and government owned corporations, Currently, the state’s government spends more than $14 billion a year, buying supplies and services.
It is hoped the move will deliver a more visible pipeline of opportunities for every Queensland business and reduce complexity to assist Queensland industry prepare for government tenders, and provide resources to help them tender, while making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses vie for public sector projects.
At the same time, the new initiative is likely to see lowest price play second fiddle to other factors when government entities are on the hunt for suppliers.
“Value for money means a lot more than choosing the cheapest price, especially when it comes to allocating taxpayers’ dollars,” Palaszczuk said. “The value of a dollar spent can be greatly increased if it is spent where it’s earned – right here in Queensland."